Will America invade?

Texas Tribune has a great article and a good piece of research that shows that the Summers efforts by the Grand Old Party(GOP) aka the old white guys, shows that the only logical reason for the extremely controversial, and retrograde “abortion regulation” bought in, in Texas, was had nothing to do with protecting women. You can read it here.

This is no surprise. In the same way that the abortion regulations were not really to protect women, the voter ID laws here in Texas, are not really to protect against voter ID fraud. It’s shameful.

If Texas were a middle eastern country, America would be trying to find a reason to Invade. They’d do it to bring us true democracy; free women from male oppression and frac the hell out of the place polluting all the water, and trying to get out before the locals work out what’s going down.

One out of three isn’t bad, I guess. I assume the Americans were scared off invading invading Texas by our well armed militias?

Prison as an engine for recovery?

Poor peoples value

Bill Maher was during the 2012 Election cycle using the term “bubble” to describe the Republican candidates for President, and often Republican voters.. They held ridiculous views because they were in a bubble, they either did hear, didn’t see, or didn’t know the truth behind the issue.

I’m like that with Prison. I’ve done a few things I’m not proud of; written a few blog entries that when I look back on, I wish I hadn’t written; I’ve never done drugs, unless red wine counts; speeding, yeah some; have not been in a fight since, well probably 1979, etc. So I’ve never really been exposed to prison, the prisoners, staff etc. It turns out on bike rides I do cycle near two pretty decent size prisons, but thats it.

I’d heard the claim that “America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world” and that the Womens rate on imprisonment for drug offences had gone up a staggering 828%. I guess thats what equality really does. Among the US States with the highest percentage of their population jailed, they are all southern states, with Texas at number 4, with some 639 people out of every 100,000 in jail. Doesn’t seem a lot until you understand the implications, cost and business behind that.

This American Life, episode 501 on July 26th carried a remarkable interview. You can hear the full 1-hour program here, but I’ve taken the liberty of editing just act-1 “Weeds of Discontent” and posting it .

It is, as their website says, “A recording of a very unusual conversation that came about in an unusual way. Filmmaker named Eugene Jarecki made a documentary about the drug war, prisons and the criminal justice system called The House I Live In. He’s been taking it around the country and showing it in prisons, and producer Brian Reed went to one of these screenings where an inmate and a corrections staff member ended up talking face-to-face.”

Until I heard this, I’d been ambivalent about the cost and impact of the war on drugs, notwithstanding Bill Maher often “banging on” about it. This has changed my mind completely. And then today, in that way things seem to inexplicably link themselves together, The Texas Tribune posted an article on how Texas is leading the US in looking for alternatives to prison. That has to be applauded. The article was written by Brandi Grissom, who coincidentally cycled with us last Saturday, when I was last riding by a prison. I never knew Brandi was a writer for the Trib’ and by that part of the ride we’d split-up.

In her article, Brandi writes

More than half of the 20,313 Texas prisoners serving time for drug-related crimes were convicted of possession, not delivery or other offenses, according to a February report by the coalition. Texas spends more than $500,000 per day to incarcerate those offenders

Gun for sale?

License Some rights reserved by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
License Some rights reserved by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Friday up the road in Georgetown Texas a man in dressed in camouflage clothes walked through a neighborhood and was openly carrying a rifle. He was duly arrested without incident according to this report in the Austin American Statesmans Blotter blog.

There isn’t much detail, but in the rush to publish, along with lack of likely follow-up, since there was no incident, the Statesman and the other mass media outlets are missing a useful opportunity to inform people about the gun control debate.

I think what would be really useful for gun arrests/incidents now would be the answer to the following questions when it is reported or in follow-up.

1. Was there a license/permit for the weapon?
2. When was the permit obtained ?
3. When was the gun obtained?
4. Where was the gun obtained?
5. Was their a background check?

If the weapons are all obtained legally by people who underwent background checks, obtained permits and bought the weapon at Wal-Mart we have a number of problems that need to be addressed.

If the guns were all illegal, the owner had no permit, and the weapon was bought black market, we have a different set of problems. Any variation of either and the problem is the same, but the solution becomes easier.

Texas, It’s not like anywhere else

austin_bumper_stickerLiving in Austin it’s all to easy to think you are in Texas, but really like it’s often said “Austin is a liberal oasis in Texas“. More often, Austin isn’t in Texas, but you can see it from here!

One of the first things I had to get used to is the Texas Legislator only being in town once every 2-years. That’s right, in what seems a total anomaly  the elected officials of the State of Texas are only in the capital to make/pass law every two years.  I’d guess this stems from the days when they had to ride horses to get to and from their constituents?

So while they work on the bi-annual budget as a key part of their initial work this year, there are a few key things that Texas does differently…

  • The Texas execution machine took a break over the year end, with near-weekly executions scheduled and most carried out. In all, Texas put to death 15 men in 2012. The state will kick off 2013 with the rare execution of a woman, Kimberly McCarthy on January 29th.
  • In all, Governor Rick Perry has presided over 239 execusions, surpassing all modern governors and marking the 478th Texas execution since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976.
  • While we await the outcome of Vice President Joe Biden to report back on gun control, Texas and Austin resident Alex Jones demonstrated perfectly why people are right to be concerned about “nut jobs” with easy access to legal guns when he “discussed” it with Piers Morgan on cnn.com.
  • Talking of “nut jobs”, over in Lubbock County Texas, Judge Tom Head claimed on local TV that a proposed tax increase would be needed to put down civil unrest and defend the country from invading UN forces should President Obama be reelected.
  • Down the street from me is a closed restaurant, Jovitas. It’s waiting the return of its owner, Amado Pardo. The restaurant was closed when Pardo was arrested by the FBI with 15-others for allegedly running a longtime heroin-dealing operation out of his eatery. What was really surprising was that Pardo was a twice convicted murderer, even more of a surprise was that Pardo was released on bail today, he has terminal cancer. Where’s the tough on crime, three strikes and you are out, when you need it?
  • Not quite as close to home, across Austin, in the Hot Bodies Mens Club, Victoria Perez, 21, was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon following a fight among seventeen women in the dressing room. A Male strip club employee was seriously injured when Perez hit him in the face with a spike heeled shoe and may have blinded him. As Alex Jones might have it, should we ban high heeled shoes? Hell no.
  • As a final vote of confidence, Buzz Bissinger, author of the book, Friday Night Lights about an Odessa Texas high school football team, tweeted that “if Dallas slid into a sinkhole, nation’s IQ would raise by 50 points”.

So, much for calm, rational people with legal access to guns. It’s interesting now that Texas has stricter controls over a womans uterus than guns. Texas now prescribes invasive gynecological procedures for Texas women, while at the same time making even harder for many thousands of Texas women to even visit a gynecologist.

And finally, it looks like the governor and the legislator don’t read my blog, otherwise they might have focused on what’s going to happen to all those children that are going to escape an unwanted death in Texas. The Governor continues to make it clear he is diametrically oppossed to any expansion of Medicaid in Texas, that pays for most of these births, and will do everything in his power to undermine national health care in Texas.

@pointaustin, writer and Editor Michael King points out that in Governor Perrys political universe, “Fetal pain” has an expiration date. Once that new Texas citizen takes his or her first breath, they are on their own. Writing in the Chronicle, King says “When the Governor says Suffer the little Children – he really means it.”

Whose water is it anyway?

Watching from twitter, I’m saddened, disappointed, embarrassed and angry, if as tweeted by @impactnews_cta , the Austin Mayor, Lee Leffingwell said

strong conservation program is important, but “if we don’t use our water, somebody else will” #atxgov — Community Impact CTA (@impactnews_cta)

The water waste in Austin is monumental. It’s probably not significantly different from most major US Cities. However, Austin is the Capital City of Texas. The 2nd biggest state(1) in the union of the United States of America, and claims to be a liberal oasis and environmental hub. In east and west Texas right now the drought and water shortages are decimating communities, more than 50% percent of US States have now declared disaster because of the drought.

At a national level the US can’t agree: ‏@lifebits

As drought worsens, US Congress fails to agree on farm relief.: The rival parties fail to pass even a scaled-dow… http://lat.ms/PJ1Wo2

So it’s even more important for the States and Municipalities to lead.

Leffingwells comment though belies the arrogance of the majority of Texans about private property and their rights. Property is always owned and defended, the mineral rights are fiercely defended. Water isn’t something that comes from somewhere, flows through a property , and flows on to somewhere else. It’s a resource that belongs to a property owner if it’s under their property, they believe they should be able to extract it, sell it, waste it.

Austin deserves better, Texas needs to lead, not to waste water.

(1) Alaska is the largest, thanks to Scott for the correction.

Texas, Life by the drop

It’s hard to imagine here in Austin, where the most obvious sign of the drought was the ban on fireworks, the new islands in Lake Travis, a few of us even made jokes about being able to set mountain bike races up out there.

In most other parts of Texas, especially West Texas, its not about fun. 2011 was the driest year on record in Texas, Texas lost between 600,000 and a million head of cattle; people were giving away sound horses rather than see them starve. It’s not a 1-year drought, it’s been going 3-4 years and we are not out of it yet.

I sat in the garage when I got home tonight to listen to the end of this 1-hour documentary on KUT. I’ve not done something like that since, oh I’d guess 1984 when I listened to the Howard Stern show and an interview with a politician over the state of baby polyestors used in suits. It was simply hilariously funny, and it was raining outside.

Life By the Drop is a close look at the state of water and drought in Texas, looking both to the past and the future for answers on how the state can manage a growing population amid a shrinking water supply. I’ve been reading tonight on the StateImpact Texas, with audio slideshows, interviews and more. The show is a great cross between news, history, and documentary.

Listen in, and change your water use.

Section 33.07 of the Texas Penal Code, Online Harassment

Interesting to note that Texas has a criminal charge on the books that covers creating a fake online ID, that is a third-degree felony. Todays Austin American Statesman drew my attention to it, not because of the story content, which is kind of sleazy, but for the law. Strange how Texas can be really quite progressive in some areas, but staggeringly regressive in others.

The Austin American Statesman article is here on their blog. Apprently after some googling, it’s covered by Section 33.07 of the Texas Penal Code, Online Harassment.

[According to http://chadwestlaw.com/resources/criminal-defense-news/] The amended code 33.07(a) allows a person to be charged with a third degree felony if he or she uses the name or “persona” of another, without that person’s permission and with the intent to “harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten any person” by creating a web page on a commercial social networking site or other Internet website. The legislature broadened the scope of section 33.07(a) significantly by including the words, “other Internet website.” This broader language could now open the door for charges to be brought against someone who creates an Ebay or Pay Pal account by using another’s credit card and identification information (fraudulently) and purchases goods. Thus, an online impersonator who uses another’s credit card and personal information may not only face theft charges, but may also be looking at a charge of online impersonation.

There are some obvious potential legitimate uses that might fall under this, but it could also be used for example to go after id’s like the Fake Steve Jobs, so it will be interesting to watch how this 2011 amendment does get used. This is the first time I’ve seen it, and this seems to be entirely appropriate.